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Thursday, 8 June 2017

the perfect fit - hunkemoller sports bra

Hunkemoller sports bra

Hunkemoller sports bra

Exercising and me haven't always been friends, but I'm proud to say I've been regularly working out now for 2 and a half years, I can't really believe it either.  I started because I was getting married, it seems that was the motivation I needed to get my ass (quite literally) into gear.  I headed up to my local outlet village and bought myself a pair of trainers, and two sports bras.  The sports bras were on offer, two for £20 from Sports Direct.  I went for the cheap ones, figuring this flirtation with exercise wouldn't last long, so at least I wouldn't feel like I'd wasted too much money.

Fast forward to today, and those sports bras are still going strong being worn regularly.  Given that they're washed every week, if not twice a week, without fail, they've been put through their paces (yes I am going to fill this post with sporting puns), and they're only just starting to look a little faded and providing not quite as much support as I'd like.  

I've never been one for having much look finding bras that fit, in fact I even wrote a post about it many moons ago, and sports bras are no exception, comfy and supportive are even more essential when your boobs are in for some serious motion (I almost wrote action, but I think that's a very different thing).  

Hunkemoller, a brand I'd never heard of until now, have answered my prayers, they dedicate themselves to making sure you get the right fit. And what's even better is their specific sportswear range, three different levels to choose from to suit your workout. I used the sports bra calculator to help me pick a level 3 (high intensity) bra to make sure these bad boys aren't going anywhere.  Now that I'm running more (ok, currently less as I've got an injury but hopefully not for much longer) and I'm doing more HIIT workouts, I need some serious scaffolding to keep them place.

Hunkemoller sports bra
Sports Bra - *Hunkemoller Leggings - *Lole

Grasmere lake

a prosecco picnic

So with a birthday walk in the sunshine planned, it seemed the perfect excuse to take my new sports bra out for a trial run (geddit?!).  No, I probably didn't need to wear a super supportive bra for a gentle wander round a lake, but when it looks this pretty, and running is on hold for a while, I had to give it it's first outing.  

I might have had to limp my way round, with a well deserved picnic and prosecco break half way, but on first wear, it gets a big thumbs up for me.  And when I've had chance to give it a proper workout, I'll report back, but for now, I'd highly recommend checking out Hunkemoller's range, I might have to treat myself to a level 1 and a level 2 version just so I have all bases covered, and at least now I know, I'll always get the perfect size.

Grasmere lake


So what do you reckon, are you going to be heading to Hunkemoller to find that perfect fit?

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

i run so i can eat cake

lotus biscoff cake

'I run so I can eat cake' - this popped up on my Instagram feed last week (sorry I can't remember whose post it was to credit them!) but it really made me smile,  and it may have struck a chord or two.

If you read my last blog post, you'll know I've set myself a new challenge, to try to run 10 miles, very little to some, a marathon to others. 50% of me is doing it because I actually really want to be able to run 10 miles, the other 50% is doing it because since Christmas my weight has gradually been going up and up and my jeans have been getting tighter and tighter.

It's fair to say, I'd become a little complacent, I will still going to classes 4 or 5 times a week so figured I could eat as much as I want and get away with it.  Turns out that's not true, who knew? And with clothes I was no longer feeling comfortable squeezing my ass into, and a holiday on the horizon I knew it was time to do something about it.

The good news is, running burns lots of calories, I've spoken to a few people who've told me they've never lost weight so quickly as when they started running, so with my 10 mile goal set, some new leggings courtesy of the mr, and a waistline I was hoping to shrink I started my running challenge.

Maccy D's
And here we are, 4 weeks later, the scales haven't moved, the legs are exhausted, my distances are going up, and my hand is reaching for the biscuit tin more than ever.  I promised myself a Maccy D's when I reached 10k, Sunday was that day, and a double cheeseburger and fries were what I ordered, and now I've set the 10 mile bar at a Krispy Kreme or two.  

While I really wish I could start to see those pounds dropping off, it's also really nice to know that for an hour of pain (yes, that's how Sunday felt!) I can enjoy a dirty McDonald's in all it's glory, and maybe I'll see those abs another day.

So, there we go, I run so I can eat cake, and burgers, and chocolate sundae's and pancakes and doughnuts and, and the list will probably never end!

chocolate sundae

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

10k to 10 miles

Top* - John Lewis, Leggings* - John Lewis, Jacket - ASOS, Trainers - Nike

It's been at least a month or two since I wrote a blog post on running, and you'll know by now, that my blog posts are about as sporadic as my actual runs.  However, with the Mr successfully finishing the Paris marathon last month and a recent Sunday morning spent glued to the television watching the London marathon, it was inevitable that I'd be donning my trainers again, convincing myself I might this time find my running feet (pun fully intended).

Well, two and a half weeks later, yes a whole 17 days and I'm still going strong, I've even printed myself out a little plan that I'm currently sticking to.  I'm not aiming to run a marathon, I'm not completely delusional but what I would like to do, is maybe push past that 10k distance and maybe, just maybe, get up to 10 miles, because wouldn't that be awesome to say I can run 10 miles.

So I've got my plan, with a little space to write a comment alongside each run, that's what Vassos does and we know how inspired (read:slightly obsessed) I am by him, and actually it's a genius idea because I always feel good after completing a run, and reminding myself of that when I've got that 'I really can't be arsed feeling' is a good push to get me out that door.

Next on the agenda is a new pair of trainers, now that I'm putting my current pair through their paces (again, pun intended) they're retaliating by giving me blisters, so the hunt is on for the perfect kicks, which of course, buying a new pair means I have to keep going. 

I've also had a bit of a revelation, I've discovered the podcast!  One of the things I find hard about running is the lack of distraction, the mr when he runs just finds he totally chills out, he enjoys the scenery and gets lost in his music.  That doesn't work for me, I'm too busy watching where my feet are stepping to look up, and music usually sets a pace too fast for me to keep up with, but the podcast is working a treat.  I can still focus on my feet, but the chat keeps my mind on something other than how much I want to stop, how heavy my legs are or is this heavy breathing actually an asthma attack.  

So with some help from the Mr (he's coming with me each time I want to up my distance), some Cumbrian sunshine (I've been surprised too) and 'My dad wrote a porno' I'm now up to 5 miles, already at half my goal! And once I've got my new trainers, which I'm sure will make me run faster and further, who knows where I'll be in another 17 days...

Nike trainers

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

a paris marathon

paris marathon

paris marathon

You’ll probably know by now, that I’m not much of a runner, despite having this inner desire to be the next Paula Radcliffe, my actual running ability is non-existent.  The Mr on the other hand, just ran his first marathon.  Yep, all 26.2 miles of it, and is determined to run another, and not just run one “one day”, apparently, he’s going to do another this year.  Now, there’s a part of me that is slightly concerned that it’s just so he can go on long training runs, you know the type that means he’s gone for several hours and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s just a good excuse to get away from me… but I’m sure it’s just that he loves running, right? Right?

Anyway, it turns out that running a marathon requires some serious training, who knew hey? And despite good intentions, and a pretty impressive training plan, which was going very smoothly, Mr B picked up an injury.  Self-diagnosis meant he was convinced it was a pulled muscle in his knee, but after his ‘nagging’ wife persuaded him to go see a sports physio it turned out it was his glute that was the issue, which in turn was having an impact on his knee.  A session of acupuncture, some serious multi-coloured tape, and suggestions to give foam rolling a go, he was good to run again.

Several months before all of this, the lovely people at Herbalife had sent me a fit-kit, complete with massage ball and foam roller along with a variety of other goodies.  Not really knowing what it was or what to do with it, and rarely suffering from the dreaded doms these days, I popped it under my bed and thought little more of it…until the hubby came home from his physio appointment and I spotted him googling ‘foam rollers’, and with a sudden realisation of ‘ohh, that’s what it is’, I ran upstairs and appeared with said foam roller. 

Fast forward a couple of hours and I can hear groans coming from the bedroom, slightly concerned that he’s now having an affair, I wander in to find him rolling around on the floor in a weird contorted position moaning.  So despite that pain, and he assures me that’s expected, foam rolling is really good for you.  It might involve some crazy-ass ‘Twister-style’ moves, and the feeling that someone is burying their knuckles into you, it supposedly works wonders.  So since then (which was a good 8 weeks ago) I’ve had to get used to the moans and groans of my husband as he foam rolls his butt for half an hour every evening.

herbalife foam roller

herbalife foam roller

marathon essentials

With marathon weekend upon us, and Mr B not feeling quite as prepared as he’d liked, I noticed that not only does his case include his running kit, emergency jelly babies and a protein packed porridge pot, his foam roller is in there too, it’s even coming to Paris with us…I’ve officially been replaced! 

And whether it was down to the foam roller not, he completed the marathon in 3 hours 50 minutes, and I couldn’t be a prouder wife, plus we got a rather lovely weekend in Paris out of it, filled with crepes, pastries, and some very stiff legs…marathon watching is hard work you know!

paris marathon

nutella crepe

Thursday, 6 April 2017

live out loud everyday

lole - john lewis

lole - john lewis

lole - john lewis

lole - john lewis

lole - john lewis

So something pretty unusual happened at the weekend, it doesn't happen often in Cumbria, but when it does, you have to make the most of it because you don't know when it might happen again.  Yes, the sun came out, beautiful, glorious sunshine, warm enough to sit outside in short sleeves, and for long enough to actually enjoy it.

And as I get older, I seem more determined to appreciate where I live and my surroundings, and as I've got fitter, I want to spend my days getting out and about, rather than lazing on the sofa all day.  A few years ago, I would genuinely have chosen to spend a sunny Saturday watching TV, then being out in it, or if I was going to have to be out in it, I'd want a cider in hand...although, some of that statement may still stand true.

lole - john lewis
lole - john lewis
lole - john lewis
lole - john lewis
Top* - John Lewis, Leggings* - John Lewis, Jacket - ASOS, Trainers - Nike

In fact, this determination to make the most of the great outdoors has even impacted our choice of holiday this year, after watching Carly's Canadian adventure, the Mr and I found ourselves booking a similar trip.  Trekking, zip lines, rafting and bike rides might not be everyone's idea of a holiday, but I can't wait...although, I'm not a total outdoorsy type yet, I pull the plug at camping, so it's all hotels and quaint little lodges for us.

So what do you need for a Canadian adventure? Well only the best of the local sports brands right? And by sheer coincidence I recently became aware of John Lewis' latest addition to their activewear, 'Lole', a brand created by Evelyn Trempe, meaning 'Live Out Loud Everyday' and designed to make you feel good inside and out, whilst still being a practical piece of clothing.

With sun in the sky, and an urge to get out, I decided to put the clothes to the test.  And while I did a lot of posing, a lot of messing around and a quick pit stop outside a pub, I did also go out for a run, and that is when these leggings really proved themselves.  Up until I owned these, I was yet to find a pair of leggings that didn't fall down while running, and there's nothing more annoying, and less glamorous, than trying to hoick up a pair of lycra leggings while you're jogging alongside a busy road.  I kid you not, these leggings did not need pulled up once, so if I have any fellow runners out there who've been on the lookout for the perfect pair then I have just answered your can thank me later. 

  So with only 12 weeks to go till our holiday, I'm just trying to decide which extra pieces I need to add to my collection because when I'm running along the streets of Vancouver, I want to look the part...

lole at john lewis
lole - john lewis

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

love beetroot - well actually i do

Beetroot filo tarts

Beetroot Dip

Beetroot filo tarts

I am a big fan of beetroot.  The Mr? Not so much.  I'm convinced it's one of those foods he claims he doesn't like, but the truth is that he's never really tasted it, doesn't really like the look of it and so assumes he won't like it...yes, we have a list of those!

There aren't many foods we disagree on, and so when we cook together at home, we eat the same meals and then when one of us is out, we use it as an excuse to eat those foods the other one doesn't like...I'm not a fan of lamb, so when I'm out, he's straight to the supermarket to get himself a nice bit of leg.  Beetroot on the other hand, isn't exactly the type of thing you compose a meal around, I often buy it to add to salads, but then he can quite easily avoid it, so when I was set the challenge to create some beetroot recipes, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to show him what he was missing out on.  Plus, he's got to try it when I've gone to the effort of making something from scratch.

Beetroot filo tarts
Beetroot Dip

Beetroot is one of those ingredients which I think is edging on becoming a superfood, it's often talked about on those programmes that are showcasing the latest in food fads, only with this one, they seem to have the results that prove how good it is for you, supposedly it's great for reducing muscle soreness after exercise so really I should be lapping up the stuff.

Anyway, I decided to give a couple of recipes a go, two pretty different ones in an attempt to convince that other half of mine that it really is good.  So with Love Beetroot on hand with their pre-cooked beetroot it couldn't get much easier because they've done all the hard work for us, making their beetroot super easy and fuss-free to use, just chop it up and it's good to go.  And the beauty of beetroot is literally that, the beauty, it makes food look so impressive with that deep rich colour, and anything that can turn things pink is a winner in my books.

Recipe Number One - Beet-a-ganouch, sweet chilli beetroot, sumac yoghurt and pine nuts

Beetroot Dip
Beetroot Dip
Beetroot Dip

I'll be honest, I'm not a lover of aubergine but I liked the idea of a dip, so I gave this a go, and the flavours from the beetroot, cumin, garlic and lemon really worked with the aubergine to create this tasty take on baba-ganoush.  We had this with falafel and pitta bread in attempt to stick with the Middle Eastern theme, and it worked well.  It was also super easy to make (just make sure you've got a good food processor) and there was plenty for me to take for my lunch for the rest of the week.  Mr B? He still needed a bit of convincing on this one, but then he's not a big 'dipper' either.

Recipe Number Two - Sweet chilli beetroot and ricotta filo tarts with nigella seeds

Beetroot filo tarts
Beetroot Filo Tarts
Beetroot filo tarts

Everyone looks pastry right? So I figured I was onto a winner with these.  And if I thought the dip was easy, then these were a walk in the park, and look how impressive they are.  In fact, I think I might add them to my 'dinner party starter' list...I actually don't own that list, but it makes me sound like one of those people who hosts fabulous dinner parties with fish courses and an amuse bouche.  I like having people round for 'tea' as we call up north, and these would definitely be a nice, easy starter, and if I did own that list, I'd be adding these.  They were delicious, the cumin, beetroot and ricotta made a lovely filling, and the nigella seeds adding a nice bit of heat and crunch.  

Unfortunately, that man of mine still wasn't quite convinced, but I know my mum would love these, and I'm not giving up yet, there's a whole of other recipes on the Love Beetroot site that I'm going to try.  First up? The chocolate brownies, and I'm just not going to tell him until after he's taking a big bite that they've got beetroot in, I'm pretty sure he'd be convinced then...

So what about you? Beetroot lover or hater? 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

don't stop me now... feeling inspired

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

I know, I know, a book review wasn't exactly what you were expecting to find over on this blog, but bear with me on this one...

This book, Don't Stop Me Now, has changed my life, ok, that's a huge exaggeration, but this book has motivated me to get my ass running like nothing I ever thought could.  If you're even vaguely interested in running, or thinking about starting to have a go at running or need some motivation to keep going, then you must read this.  Yes, I know you think I've gone insane but it's true, I'd offer to lend you it, but I kinda want to read it again.

I bought this book for the Mr for Christmas, and after a few weeks of him reading small snippets aloud, or referring to sections he'd just read, I asked him to tell me no more as from the bits I'd heard from him, I actually wanted to read it myself. 

This is a book by Vassos Alexander, no I hadn't heard of him either, if you're a sports fan, or have a partner who is, it's likely that they will know the name, Vassos is apparently one of the best known sports broadcasters there is, and an ultra runner to boot.  However he hasn't always been an ultra runner, in fact, he hasn't always been a runner, he started late in life, I think in his mid-30's (don't quote me on that!) and only because his waist band was expanding and he wanted to continue his regular beer drinking down the pub.

The book follows his journey from his first ever run, five minutes down the road from his house and collapsing in a heap, to him completing an iron man (2.4mile swim, 112 mile cycle finished off with a marathon, 26.2 miles if you're wondering).  It's split into 26 chapters, each chapter starts with an almost diary-like entry, written whilst he's running each mile of his iron man marathon, it's a difficult read as you can feel the pain and distress he's putting his body through every step of the way, and you find yourself urging him to stop, and yet praying he'll finish it. 

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander
I know, I hate myself for this bedside table reading too...

Each chapter then goes on to chronicle more of his running life, and ends with stories about how other (usually very well known) runners got into the sport, think Paula Radcliffe, Joss Naylor (my fellow Cumbrian readers should know who he is) Nell McAndrew and Vassos' own children to name a few, and it is completely fascinating.  As many of these are Olympians, they generally knew from a young age they'd be runners, but the odd one didn't start till they were older and yet have still gone on to achieve incredible feats.

But as a non-runner, it's hard to get motivated by those 'natural' types, I just assume it comes easy to them and so know very much from my own experience that that will never be me.  That's what I love about Vassos, he hasn't always found running easy or pleasurable, he talks about his aches and pains, the inner battle he has with himself to give up often half-way through runs, and those occasions when you go out for a run, and you're just not feeling it.  

My husband is training for a marathon, he's a natural runner, he's always enjoyed it, and often uses it as a stress reliever, and he's fast! I don't think he really understands why I find it so difficult, why I so often just give up and walk home, and why I don't seem to be getting any further or faster.  I'm not criticising him for this, he's just made to run, me not so much.  

However Vassos gets it, but he also talks about how much he loves it, how he finds it the best way to discover a new city when he's travelling, how he always just keeps telling himself to keep going when he doesn't really want to anymore, and how he completes several long distance runs in all the wrong kit because he's forgotten to bring most of it with him.  He doesn't follow a crazy diet, he hasn't set himself ridiculous training plans and he does most things he shouldn't the night before/hour before a big race...think drinking beer, eating too much (or too little) and wearing the wrong trainers. 

It's completely fascinating, and has really inspired me to get back out there and stick with it, I'm probably back down to 5k distances now, but I'd like to get that  up to 10k again, and maybe regularly managing 10k, not once every 6 months which seems to be how it goes.  I want to go to the local Park Run and try to beat my previous times, and I want to go out for a jog to just enjoy and appreciate the landscape.

So, thank you Vassos for inspiration, and maybe one day I'll be recounting my own Iron Man tales.... yeah, I went too far, maybe a half marathon, maybe one day? 

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

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